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Offered by Willy Strohmeier – Colorado Karate Club

Maddox is a vivacious six year old Karate student who trains consistently every week and enjoys the training and its benefits. This day, Maddox, along with several other students, is testing for his Yellow Belt. He has trained and prepared well. His mom and dad are here to watch him and are in great expectation.

Maddox begins his testing well, he is strong, and focused; it seems that it will be an easy task. But half way through, something happened, his mind wanders, he loses concentration. All of the sudden, he is making mistakes, the nerves begin taking over him and he is unable to regain his focus. Everything seems to fall apart at that point.

The test is over, and while his peers receive their new rank certificate and belts, Maddox is told that he has failed the test and will need to do it again at a later date. Obviously, he is despondent, downcast. He steps out from the Dojo and hugs his mom, as a few tears escape on the side of his face which he tries to hide in her arms.

I have seen this scene many times, and it is very difficult to fail someone whom I want so much to succeed. However, I know by experience that failure is a part of life, that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we come up short of our goal. As a parent it is also difficult to see our children fail at anything, and having to deal with all the emotions that come with it.

Power of Failure and Cost of Success-01Some parents seem to wish to save their children any disappointment or hardship. Maddox’s parents could have come to me, as the instructor, and reproach me for failing him, for not getting him ready well enough, or for having him test when he was not ready. They could have pulled him out of training and have him do something else where he can “always succeed,” or not be subjected to such a “negative” experience.

Fortunately, however, this is seldom the case, I am extremely proud to see parents that while consoling, are also encouraging to their children to try harder, to prepare better physically and mentally. To learn from their shortcomings and the pains caused by them; to pick themselves up and do a better job next time.

Yes, Maddox, like many of my students in that situation did not crumble, he was now even more determined, he trained harder and didn’t give up. His mom told me: “He’s been practicing everyday in the living room”. At the next examination, Maddox was amazing, and there was no doubt that he earned his yellow belt. As I watched him, I could not help but smile with pride, not only because of his accomplishment, but most of all because of his resilience.

I truly believe that we must challenge our children to be at their best, allowing them to try hard, to fail, and to succeed. To show them the way and let them walk, not always to carrying them on our shoulders. Yes, they may trip and fall at times, but only by picking themselves up, will they be fully able to enjoy the value of hardwork and the price of success.

At this early age, Maddox’s example, has much to teach many of us about focus, determination, and a will to succeed, and I am honored to be a part of the journey.

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Colorado Karate Club